Farmers battle Wyobraska sugarbeet harvest

Wyobraska farmers continue with sugar beet harvest, but with a wet cool fall this year's harvest has been long and hard. In a interview with KNEB/Rural Radio Network, Western Sugar Cooperative Area Ag Manager Jerry Darnell says harvest has been a struggle.

As of Thursday, harvest was 35 percent complete. "In comparison to a year ago, we were over 60 percent complete at this time, so we are definitely behind, Darnell said. "Every grower has done a good job battling the muddy conditions".

Darnell said growers are purchasing extra carts, running carts and pulling trucks through the field. He says "they are doing a lot to get this crop out".

With the wet field conditions and the chance for more moisture, farmers have worked to make up lost ground. This week several receiving stations set records for the amount of tons purchased in a single day.

Going into harvest, Western Sugar estimated the area would average 29 and quarter ton. With a lot of excellent yields, the region could beat that estimate.

Darnell said,"Tonnage is the bright spot and with all of the additional rain this fall the crop gained a lot of tons, but it also diluted a lot of the sugar content, so it's not near as high as sugar content as we would like it to be".

A lot of yields are coming in averaging 30 tons an acre, but sugar content remains below expectations. Darnell says currently the region is averaging 15% percent, well below last year's production of 17.7 percent.

With fewer planted acres and lower sugar content total sugar production will be lower than a year ago. With low sugar prices, Darnell says the cooperative wanted to produce enough to meet their allocation.

Darnell is hopeful warmer and drier weather will stay in the forecast next week, so three-quarters of this crop can be harvested by next weekend.

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